Farmington River Report: Not as low, still a bit slow

I guided Glenn and Magnus yesterday from 10:30-2:30. The river was uncharacteristically quiet within the Permanent TMA — we saw only three other anglers the entire day. It was cool and damp and cloudy, perfect for tiny BWOs, but the only bugs appearing in numbers were caddis. Water was 160cfs and leaves were a factor. We fished a combination of indicator nymphing/drop shot and streamers, and although we stuck several fish on both methods, it was not a good day for getting trout to the hoop. Nonetheless, a pleasure fishing with you, gentlemen. (For those fishing streamers, white was the hot color yesterday. I like white when there are colorful leaves in the water.)

Magnus working a run at the head of a pool. We had a brief flurry of activity here, sticking two fish in the space of 5 minutes.

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Glenn waiting for the strike…here it comes…

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Road Warrior: Three presentations this week!

Three days, three presentations, all of them different: the first freshly updated, the second an oldie but goodie, and the third making its debut! Here’s where you can find me this week:

Tuesday, October 15, 7:00pm, “West Branch Farmington River,” Thames Valley TU, North Franklin Fire House, 5 Tyler Drive, North Franklin, CT. This presentation has been updated with new photos, video, and content that reflects current regulations and trends. For more information, here’s the TVTU website.

Wednesday, October 16, “Wet Flies 101,” Capital District Fly Fishers, Colonie VFW Post 8692, 140 VFW Road, Colonie, NY. This is my intro to the wonderful world of wet flies. Wet flies have been fooling trout for centuries — and the fish aren’t getting any smarter. The link to the CDFF Facebook page is here.

Thursday, October 17, “The Little Things 3.0,” Farmington Valley TU, Whinstone Tavern, Stanley Golf Course, New Britain, CT. The world premier of The Little Things 3.0! Pay attention to the seemingly insignificant details, and you’ll catch more fish. You can find their website here.

Hope to see you, and if you’re a currentseams follower, please be sure to tell me.

A very good-natured reminder: C-O-L-T-O-N makes reels. C-U-L-T-O-N is me. Just sayin’. 🙂

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Updated October 2019: The West Branch Farmington River Presentation

I spent most of today updating one of my oldest presentations. The West Branch Farmington River sports new video, photos, content, and is current with new regs as of fall 2019. If your club is looking for a comprehensive overview of southern New England’s blue ribbon trout stream, this is the presentation you’ve been looking for. You can find out more about this and my other presentations here.

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In case you missed it, I have an article about the Farmington River in the most recent issue (Sept/Oct 2019) of Eastern Fly Fishing. You can get a copy direct from them here.

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Tip of the Week: The wrong fly presented correctly is better than the right fly presented incorrectly

I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful. But it’s so true. And it’s played out multiple times in my last two trout outings. “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly…” strategy is part of my new presentation, The Little Things 3.0, and I wanted to share it with you so you can catch more fish on your next trip.

Situation A: I’m fishing a snotty dump-in at the head of long pool with several feet of depth. I see small (size 16) caddis and tiny BWOs and what looks like a smaller (size 16) sulphur in the air, and a few swirls of rising trout. Problem: I’ve only got my streamer pack with me; the only wet flies I have are big size 10 white fly soft hackles from a summer smallie trip — not even close to what’s hatching. Nonetheless, I rigged up a makeshift wet fly team of two on 8-lb fluoro. Not ideal on a number of fronts — the fly is way too big, it’s the wrong color, the leader system is clunky at best. And yet, I was making it easy for the buyer to buy — and sometimes that’s all you need to do to make a sale.

This handsome brown proves that it’s rarely a bad idea to feed the fish something that looks alive and good to eat (even if it’s the wrong size and color and species) — as long as you feed it to them the same way they’re taking their food. 

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Situation B: Long, languid water, hardly classic wet fly structure or speed. You’d think dry fly all the way on this mark. The trout are smutting on tiny BWOs, producing gentle rise rings, the kind you see with midges or Tricos or — tiny BWOs. I’ve been fishing streamers, so I’ve got an 8-weight WF line — a really bad choice for this kind of water. I do have some smaller BWO wet fly patterns this time, and so two of them go on the team of three. But I like to give the fish a choice, just in case. So I tied on a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger top dropper. This fly is 10 sizes larger than what the trout are feeding on. But I’m fishing in the film, using a mended swing and dead drift to bring the team of flies to hungry mouths, just like the naturals. You can see where this is going…

Bingo! Wrong fly, right presentation, big brown. Go forth and do likewise. Oh, yes — the same rule holds true for stripers.

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Housy Report 10/8/19: BWOs and Truttasaurus

I fished the four marks within the Housatonic River TMA today, late morning to early afternoon, and while the action was spotty I was able to score my biggest brown of the season on a Squirrel and Ginger.

I began the day dedicated to the streamer cause, but after 45 minutes I’d only had one bump. Since there were tiny BWOs (size 18-22) and caddis (size 16) in the air, I switched over to a three-fly wet fly team. That produced one stocker rainbow. The third mark was a blank, so I returned to where I’d seen some fish rising earlier. Not really classic wet fly water but the trout were clearly on small stuff (as evidenced by the sipping rise rings) and emergers of some sort (the tell of splashy rises). I missed two before connecting with a 20″ holdover brown.

The take was gentle but unmistakable, as was the fish’s size once it realized it was hooked. Love the comfort factor of fishing with Maxima 4-pound — ain’t no trout in this river going to break that.

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It’s hard to take a beauty shot mid stream when you’re flying solo, so this is the best I could do. Still, you get some sense of this truttasaurus‘ length, and check out the ginormous tail. The mouth of my net is 17″ — this one did not slide in easy. We like that problem! Wet flies fished in the film, delivered to active feeders, continue to be a highly productive big fish method. 

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River conditions: 450cfs and rising, light stain, some leaves and pine needles, 58 degrees. And crowded for a Tuesday in October! Thanks to everyone who greeted me by name today, and as always, if you’re on the river and you see me please say hello.

 

RI Striper Report 10/1/19: For old times’ sake

I suspect that at 9:45pm last night many of you were either watching MNF or getting ready for bed. Me? I was pulling out of my garage to go striper fishing in Rhode Island.

Used to be that fall meant many long nights spent banging around the beaches, breachways, and salt ponds of the Ocean State. Sadly, the state of the striper stocks have reduced that autumn fishery to a shell of its former self. Nonetheless, needs must go, if only to remember the glorious nights of yore when the surface of my thumb was reduced to shredded flesh.

“Steve, can you get me on the hook? For old times’ sake.” Can do, Sally.

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I fished two marks. The first was a skinny water flat where I used a three fly team (Orange Ruthless, small PB bucktail, Morning Glory) and wet fly tactics. The flat was loaded with silversides, and although I heard a few pops, I was only able to manage a couple of touches. The lack of sharpness on the hits led me to believe that dink stripers were the culprit.

Off to Spot B, an area with an elevated perch and nearby incandescent lights. Peanut bunker and mullet in the bait mix. Now well after 1am, I was just about to call it when I heard some mischief and saw a pod of six school bass harassing bait down current. I made a cast, didn’t like it, and as I was pulling my rig out of the water one of the bass struck. The upshot was a miss, but those fish were there to eat, and on the next cast I connected with a double on the PB and the Morning Glory.

And so a happy and tired me crawled into bed just after 3am.

Not from last night, but a good likeness of my customers.

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Farmington River Report 9/25/19: The soft hackles have it

I guided repeat client John yesterday and we were blessed with spectacular weather. Water was low (130/160cfs, permanent TMA/Unionville) but very fishable and cool, even down south. John wanted to work on his wet fly game, so we headed up to Riverton to take advantage of the recent stocking. If the DEEP trucks made a recent visit, we saw no evidence of it: we hit three marks in two hours, and waded hundreds of yards of water without a single touch. Other anglers we encountered also reported blanking. Very curious.

Look like a good place for a SOB-ing trout to be hiding out? I certainly thought so. John covering some very sexy water with a team of three.

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Thus spanked, we headed down to the permanent TMA for a nymphing lesson. John had never done any nymphing, but he took to it quickly, and before too long was rewarded with a gorgeous Survivor Strain brown. We took one more rainbow, and both fish came on the top dropper, a tiny (sz 18 2x short) SHPT.

Parr marks, haloed spots, clipped adipose and obstreperous behavior once netted clearly IDed this fish as a Survivor Strain brown. Not a bad first Farmington River brown, nor a bad first trout ever on a nymph!

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We finished up swinging wets on the lower river and brought a few more fish to hand. Nice job John in some challenging conditions!

This seems like a good time to mention that I am a teaching guide, and if you’re like John — someone who has had some success in fly fishing but wants to expand their skill set — maybe you should consider a few hours on the water with me. I teach anglers of all levels, from beginner to experienced. You can find out more here.